If you have before or plan to venture out on a short term mission trip, you know the rush of emotion and excitement, and you also know the nervousness and anticipation. For many of us veteran “short-termers”, we would probably agree that the excitement and fear involved in going on or leading a short-term trip never really goes away. Every trip is full of the unknown, sometimes good and sometimes scary, but always worth it in the end. Here are a few things that I believe will make your short-term trip more than worth it. I love the adventure that comes with throwing out the plans and trying something new. But I also know the regret in failing to prepare for something that the Lord has entrusted me with.
Study the People
Many times we arrive at the airport of our destination full of excitement and anticipation. And then we reach the customs counter or the security line and have no idea what is going on around us as people try to desperately direct us in a language that we may have never heard before. But we get through security after finally finding someone who speaks a little bit English, we leave the airport with our joy restored and our minds focused on the mission until we arrive at the village or slums just to find out that we still haven’t picked up on the language, and everyone is staring at you like you came from another planet.
If we were being honest, we spend most of our time team building, sermon prepping, and drama practicing, (which are all SUPER important), but we never took time to learn a few words in their language. Spend some time before your trip not only preparing how to preach the Gospel, but WHO you are sharing the Gospel with. What is the culture like? What are somethings that may be normal in our culture, but completely offensive in theirs?
Plan to pray
Jesus prayed often. I have heard over and over again that not planning is planning to fail. Prayer is not only necessary for any kind of ministry, but it is the place where we can interact with with Christ and prepare our lives for the ministry ahead. Start committing yourself to pray well before you decide to go on a trip. Plan for space in your schedule every day to pray specifically for your trip. Put a daily reminder in your phone so that you not only make time to pray but that it becomes a daily habit.
Start committing yourself to pray well before you decide to go on a trip.
Know who you’re with
I am all about team building. I believe that the stronger and closer the team, the more effective the ministry. But even more than knowing your team, knowing your God will allow you to do more than you have ever dreamed of doing in 14 days of ministry in another country. Know that when you are serving, you are not just doing something for God, but you are building the Kingdom of heaven with God. Not only does this give you more peace and confidence, but it takes the burden off of your shoulders and it allows the Holy Spirit to work through you and with you.
The more you stretch the farther you’ll run and the less sore you will be later. The same goes with missions. If you never stretch your faith, your attitude, and your willingness to do whatever is asked, the harder your mission trip will be. Stretching doesn’t usually occur during the race, but always happens before and is suggested to happen after. Stretch now, and start stepping out in areas that you usually wouldn’t, before you get on the field, and when you come back. Talk to that Starbucks barista that you have been meaning to invite to church. Give above and beyond your tithes or donate to someone else’s mission trip. Do what scares you the most, and watch how much farther you will be able to stretch yourself once you step onto the mission field.
So you are a few months, or maybe a few weeks away from your mission trip. Believe in yourself, but more importantly believe in your God. Pray and intercede, but also have fun. Try to be flexible, and try new things. Learn a few words in another language but don’t stress yourself out, God will use you.
Create relationships, meet new people, and build the Kingdom of heaven.
Not sure in Short-term missions is for you? Concerned about the myths you have heard about short-term trips? My great friend Michael has some awesome advice, check out his post here.